Trump signs law to make VA more accountable for vets' care

White House: Trump to sign VA accountability bill on Friday

The 2014 VA scandal stands out as one of the most egregious failures of providing our veterans with the care they deserve.

The law, called the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, makes the process by which VA Secretary David Shulkin can fire an employee simpler by affording him more authority to get rid of employees and shortening the review process for said firing. "What happened was a national disgrace", Trump said Friday.

In the past several years, VA's civil service rules have kept the department from firing an employee who engaged in an armed robbery; from recouping $400,000 in relocation benefits from two senior employees who abused their authority; and from holding employees accountable for their failures to manage major construction projects, including the new hospital in Aurora, Colorado, that is now several years and almost a billion dollars over-budget. The new law also protects whistleblowers in the VA. The VA is the government's second-largest department, providing health care and other services to millions of veterans.

The legislation, which many veterans' groups supported, cleared the House last week by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 368 to 55, replacing an earlier version that Democrats had criticized as overly unfair to employees.

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"Although marketed as a bill to make it easier to fire bad employees, the proposals are created to kill off and bury the apolitical Civil Service", AFGE President David Cox, Sr. said at a May 17 Senate hearing. The Senate passed the bill by voice vote a week earlier.

The measure ensures that VA employees who are terminated will not remain on the VA payroll while appealing their terminations. It lowers the standard of evidence needed to fire employees. "It makes it just as easy to fire a good employee, an innocent employee, as it will be to fire a bad employee". "It's a reform that I campaigned on, and now I am thrilled to be able to sign that promise into law", Trump said.

President Donald Trump signs the "Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017" in the East Room of the White House, Friday, June 23, 2017, in Washington.

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